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Meyers out next season?

It appears unlikely that Joel Meyers will be part of the Cardinals' radio play-by-play team next year. SJR has learned that those responsible for assembling the radio team are actively seeking someone who will treat the position as a full-time job, moving to St. Louis and becoming involved in the community and KMOX. Meyers, who has a contract that is limited to the current season, has several other professional obligations and uses Los Angeles as his home base. Bob Costas, who has been suggested by many fans as a prime candidate for the job, agrees with the philosophy He told SJR, "The Cardinals should be seeking the most qualified announcer who can give his full attention to the Cardinals."

Fan reaction to Meyers' work this year has been mixed. Letters in the Post-Dispatch sports section and postings on various local websites laud his voice and his local roots (Meyers worked at KSHE and as the Busch Stadium public announcer). But other comments noted a distaste for his constant reading of statistics someone else had assembled and his slick, well-polished announcing style. It appears the detractors want a laid-back, folksy style with more warmth and personality.

The Cardinals worked in conjunction with KMOX to bring Meyers in for a season to replace Joe Buck. This season, Buck stepped down as a radio voice to concentrate on his TV duties. The decision to bring in Meyers was made while Joe Buck's father, Jack, was a patient at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Once the season was under way and it became obvious the elder Buck would not be coming back, Meyers added more games. "Joel is in an unenviable position," says Tom Langmyer, KMOX operations manager, "because some fans thought Meyers was brought in to replace Jack Buck. That wasn't the case and, unfortunately, as a result, Joel has been compared, unfairly, to Jack. Joel has done a good job under difficult circumstances."

Since Mike Shannon is now the senior announcer for the Cardinals, sources say his input will be significant in determining who shares the booth with him next season. Shannon has been working to make Meyers more comfortable in the booth, and Cardinals and KMOX management have avoided micro-managing Meyers' work, instead giving him space to develop.

Langmyer says a national search is under way and an ad has been placed on the station's website: "America's Sports Voice, KMOX-St. Louis is looking for a SPORTS AMBASSADOR! KMOX's past and present roster includes Jack Buck, Bob Costas, Dan Dierdorf, Harry Caray, Joe Garagiola, Joe Buck and many others. Would you like to be on this list? You might be if ...

* You are big in your community.

* People come to hear you speak.

* You are recognized by people on the street.

* You love to make people laugh and you can move them with your stories.

* You have friends in prominent positions in the sports community and the community in general.

* They socialize with you and you can talk with them and have fun with them on the air.

* You don't consider yourself a sports journalist, but a broadcaster, toastmaster and celebrity.

* You are respected by owners, players and management.

* You are happy where you are ... But this is the opportunity of a lifetime!

This is a high profile position that includes hosting programs, special events and play-by-play ..."

It sounds exactly like they're looking for another Jack Buck. Of course, the decision makers know that's not possible, but they also know they want someone who has some mileage in the business and whose work and personality will be a good fit in the community. And although it's not mentioned in the ad, there will be heavy emphasis on the chemistry the candidates have with Mike Shannon and with the fans. Langmyer stated that several current major league baseball announcers have expressed interest in the job but he declined to name them. Bob Ramsey has been filling in on games when Meyers isn't available, but Ramsey doesn't appear to be a candidate. Another broadcaster with local ties has also been heard on Cardinals' broadcasts. Steve Stewart, a Baltimore Orioles announcer and WBAL radio sports personality, filled in for Meyers during a recent home stand against Philadelphia. Stewart has known KMOX's Langmyer for several years, and a source tells SIR that Stewart is being considered for a slot at KMOX and is simply filling in when Meyers can't be in the booth.

Who are the decision makers? It appears to be a triumvirate composed of team owners, team management (including Shannon) and radio station management, and although no date is set for a final decision, the search is shifting into high gear this month.

Don't look for another former baseball player to join Shannon in the booth. A source close to the search says they want a pro who's been in the trenches. But SIR has also learned there are no preconceived notions regarding the amount of experience needed. A source says, "They'll give the same consideration to someone who's 'on the way up' as they will to someone who's made it." The source also says it's possible they'll hire more than one person.

Is Bob Costas under consideration? No one is talking, but his name continues to come up among fans who want a change made in the booth. When asked if he had interest in the job, Costas replied, "If nominated, I will not run. If elected, I will not serve."

There's no disputing that this is a plum position in the business of sports play-by-play. The Cardinals' radio network has more than 100 affiliates in seven states, making the name of the new hire a household word over a large portion of mid-America. At this point, the only safe bet you can make is that the name is not likely to be Joel Meyers.
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Title Annotation:Joel Meyers
Author:Absher, Frank
Publication:St. Louis Journalism Review
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2002
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